Usually once you have stayed in a place for a good period of time, and that is for the period of time enough for one to get a good grasp of the general atmosphere and vibes – provided of course you are a … restless soul – you will have created your personal, … bespoke map of places worth seeing – be it museums, bars, restaurants, neighbourhoods, roads, lampposts … anything that may trigger your soul’s innermost emotional strings. Normally, these places may mean nothing to others, but for you, these places are associated with personal, intimate experiences and as such may end up being suggestions by you to be visited by friends. Of course if one manages to make others feel thιs emotionalism…then one feels greatly proud and happy!
One of such places, definitely a must to visit, is a blues bar in London.
When it was first suggested that we visit this place, the suggestion was met with substantial hesitation by me. A girl I had barely met in the University’s first days proposed that we visit this hugely popular blues bar in the middle of London. Well, when I hear words “popular, centre of London (anything in the W2 area), Hugely…” even at that time, then such proposals are greeted by grave concerns. But..whatever, London had barely started to emerge in front of our … hungry eyes and in order to have an personal opinion about every place, we had to visit everything.
When we arrived at Piccadilly Circus my mind went straight to touristy, arty farty places that will charge 4 pounds for a pint of lager, will be full of tourists drinking and spilling beer everywhere, will be playing from time to time blues and the rest of the time mainstream music, will take ages to get in and of course will be equipped with … filthy toilets.
Our friend directed us to this dark alley (Kingly St) just off Regents Streets. We waiting outside a place that looked like a shoe shop – nothing screamed this was a blues bar.
It was Tuesday and we spent a good 20 minutes waiting out in the cold (it was November) to get in. After waiting and chatting we were asked to get in. Once we entered we were greeted by an audience singing and dancing in the rhythms of well know riffs. The place was tiny!. BB King was played by the band and people were holding pints of beer, holding each other, singing, kissing … all of them thrown into a state of … exhilaration.
They say first impression is everything and I truly have to say that I loved the place, even though I had some reservations as to how the night would evolve!.
As the night was progressing we slowly made our way to one of the 6 small tables just next to the band playing and after a bit of pushing and shoving, always gently (!), we were ready to appreciate another two hours of blues music. At around 00.30 we had sat properly in one of the tables and ordered our third pint …we were ready! It was fantastic. It was great. Another band … climbed on the scene (maximum 2 m2) and the night just started! I had ages I had found a proper blues place and I just loved it. Our friend told us that it is considered one of the two best blues bar in London. We moved and danced into the rhythms of well known riffs. We drank beer, made jokes, met people around us, had fun and considered we had a great start in London. All of us were students for a one-year MSc degree and decided such nights were a great way to appreciate London and make our stay there unforgettable!.
From that time on I have to say I frequently visited the place. Either on a relaxed Tuesday or on a packed Saturday the vibes were unique. All kinds of blues music were played there and taking aside some rock and roll stuff which are not my piece of cake, everything else was great. They even had created a jam night so that newly formed blues band could play for sometime. Even my manager from my first telecom job did plenty of jam sessions there, as I later found by serendipity!
If you ever visit London I truly suggest you visit the place.
Always check what is on. If it is Friday/Saturday try to get in e bit early – 9 or 10 maximum. Do not expect to get a table straight away but time really flies there and if you intend to spend the night listening to blues I would suggest you aim for a table and make your way there, slowly and gently. As far as I am concerned, every night there I managed to get a good table! Be prepared to make good friends. Next to you might be sitting a Londoner or a girl from Australia visiting London and the music and the beer that everybody consumes – always in control – does trigger new friendships to be formed. So wear your social mask and try to meet everybody around you. I am sure by 2 am you will be singing with each other, buying beer to all and possibly building a great friendship!